7/9/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Fusion"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E17
Air Date: February 27, 2002
Written by: Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Directed by: Rob Hedden

Premise
The Enterprise comes across a group of emotional Vulcans who don't try to take them to Sha Ka Ree.

Review
We start in Archer's room where he's showing T'Pol a text book he's kept since he was a kid. (I don't know about you, but as soon as school's over for me, those books are the last things on my mind.) This book shows a picture of the Arachnid Nebula, which Archer explains that he's been looking forward to seeing up close and in person. He holds the picture up to his screen which is presumably showing a live picture of the nebula and smiles. And T'Pol rolls her eyes. As she looks at the first page of the book she sees it belongs to "Admiral Johnny Archer." D'AAAAWWWWWWW

But then they're interrupted. Guess who else is in the vicinity of the Arachnid Nebula. Some random Vulcan ship that T'Pol doesn't recognize. Apparently this class of ship hasn't been used in a very long time. This ends up to be, presumably, because it's driven by a group of outcast Vulcans who insist on showing their emotions. T'Pol calls them the V'tosh ka'tur, or "Vulcans without emotions." I call them "a breath of fresh air." These Vulcans are allowed to smile, make jokes, love and eat chicken!
CHICKEN?! I MUST HAVE MORE CHICKEN!
T'Pol, and, it would seem, most of Vulcan culture, believes that emotions, at least for their race, turn them into savage, uncontrollable beasts. She argues that just because the V'tosh ka'tur can smile and eat chicken doesn't mean they've mastered their emotions. I argue that just because Vulcans are only allowed to express themselves once every seven years during pon farr when they basically go crazy for a day, break things and rape women doesn't mean all emotion is volatile. (Just sayin'.)

ANYWAY. The V'tosh ka'tur need some repairs done, so Archer graciously offers to help out while they check out the Arachnid nebula. This allows T'Pol ample time to get to know her outcast friends. Which she doesn't readily do at first. After trying her best to avoid them, Archer eventually calls her out and requests that she allow herself to get a little closer to their guests.

That's when Tolaris gets all up in her business. At about the same age as T'Pol, he's one of the younger members of the V'tosh ka'tur. He's the one who would try to convert T'Pol. When they meet in the mess hall, they get into a conversation about their differences... and how T'Pol has allowed her time with the humans to soften her. She shows a dry sense of humor, and her emotions are a bit closer to the surface. When they finally arrive at the Arachnid Nebula, Archer assigns T'Pol to go aboard the Vulcan ship to coordinate sensor readings, and that's when Tolaris really gets to her. He suggests that she go just one night without meditating. Just to see what happens. He appeals to the scientist in her to make it an experiment.

That's when things get trippy. That night, without having meditated before bed, she has a dream that alternates between the San Francisco streets, a club named Fusion, conversations with Tolaris and sex with Tolaris. Finally, it ends with a statue of Surak falling to the ground and breaking. That obviously must be significant somehow.
Oh no! All my teachings!
She goes to Phlox in the morning with a headache. And she knows exactly why.

Well, all this time, Trip Tucker has been becoming friendly with the V'tosh ka'ture engineer, Kov. They swap stories about each other's culture. The learn about football and pon farr and dancing and all that good stuff. But in the meantime, Archer got news that Kov's father is on his death bed and wants to talk to Kov. Well, Kov refused when Archer told him. Apparently, his father told him that by joining the V'tosh ka'ture he brought shame upon 15 generations of his family. But, obviously, Archer can't just leave it alone. He asks Trip to help Kov talk to his dad. And for some reason a story that Trip tells about regretting not talking to a girl at the prom is somehow relevant to his situation. Trip not getting a girlfriend strikes a chord with Kov and, after giving it a night's thought, he agrees to call his father. Yay! Trip wins!

Meanwhile, T'Pol recovers from her dream by getting back to work. When Tolaris joins her he tries to get her to talk about her experience. She resists, but eventually ends up telling him about it. Tolaris insists that emotions are nothing to be afraid of. Later in her quarters, Tolaris introduces her to an ancient practice that has fallen out of favor in Vulcan culture: the Vulcan Mind Meld. (I'm resisting the emotional urge to lash out with joy about how this piece of lore is affecting me.)
YES!
The meld starts out pretty much as expected. Tolaris touches T'Pol's face awkwardly and says the whole "my mind to your mind" spiel. And then they travel through T'Pol's dream. She remembers a time when she broke from protocol and left the human base to explore downtown San Francisco. In the mind meld, she sits in the Fusion club with Tolaris and has a conversation with him where she explains that she felt exhilarated. It's all good until she starts getting agitated. She requests that Tolaris stops, but he refuses. Well, at that point it just turns into mind rape. She ends up having to pull herself away forcefully and throws Tolaris out of her room.

Later, Archer confronts Tolaris about assaulting T'Pol. And after a bit of a verbal volley, Tolaris assaults Archer, throwing him across the room. At which point, Archer aims a phase pistol at him and declares that he's no longer welcome on the Enterprise. After the V'tosh ka'ture ship leaves, T'Pol says that she's feeling better. She asks Archer if he dreams and if they are pleasant experiences. He says they are most of the time. And she responds that she envies him.

Overall Thoughts
All the awards go to this episode!! Seriously, I have never been more sure that Enterprise isn't actually the horrible blot on Star Trek that people have said it is. In this episode we get fantastic acting by Jolene Blalock, some wonderful bits of Vulcan lore and history and a pretty enjoyable friendship between a fat Vulcan and Trip. You cannot miss this episode when you watch Enterprise!